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Harvesting and Drying

Last Updated: December 14, 2021By Jason Levin

Harvesting and Drying Seeds

Harvesting / drying

Now that you have successfully completed the marijuana plant’s full grow cycle, you’re finally able to enjoy the fruit of your labor.  Well, almost… there are a few more steps before the process is complete.

This is the time when you harvest, dry, and get your buds ready to consume. We will help you learn what to do once your buds are nice and ripe.

When to harvest

Once the flowering stage ends, your plant will become ready to harvest. One way to determine this is when you see the pistils (tiny hairs) of the marijuana plant start turning orange and brown. The trichomes (small crystals) on your buds will turn from clear to cloudy to amber.  The more cloudy your trichomes, the higher the THC of your buds.  As they amber though, the THC concentration will diminish, so timing is everything.  Keep a close eye, and you may notice the stem broadening, the leaves turning yellow, and the resins on the buds becoming darker. When you identify these symptoms, it’s time to harvest.

THC and CBD are the key compounds found in cannabis plants. As you may have learned, THC is the main psychoactive component of weed which is found more predominantly in the resin of the buds. The longer you wait, the THC will begin to turn into CBN, a non-psychoactive compound.

It is important to harvest your marijuana at the right time to ensure you end up with superior weed. The key here is to wait for the buds to become ripe because if you harvest too soon, the main cannabinoids will not have the proper time to develop. But if you wait too late to harvest, the main cannabinoids CBD and THC will deteriorate. When you harvest will determine the results you will get. It all depends on your taste and the effects you experience.

Your harvesting and curing techniques are the precursor to the end results.

Here are a few magnifying tools you can use to determine your marijuana plants are ready for harvest. They give you a closer view of your plants so you can see the color changes and other necessary signs.

  • Jeweler’s Loupe
  • Digital Microscope
  • Magnifying Tools
  • Handheld Magnifier

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What happens during the drying process?

Now that you have harvested a healthy marijuana plant, it’s time to dry your buds. Weed is made up of 70% water which until removed makes your weed bad for smoking. So, let’s go over the drying process.

The first method is slower and very effective. You will hang the buds in an upside-down position in a drafty, dark location. Keep the temperature at about 65 F, with good air circulation. The downside is the strong smell, which is why an enclosed space is important. Use a fan for ventilation to reduce the chances of mold. Removing the large green fan leaves will speed up the process since this part of the plant holds the most water.

Quick drying marijuana involves hanging the buds upside down in a dark space, but in this case, you will raise the temperature over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This most likely requires using a heater, but the room must be properly ventilated. By keeping the buds really close, the drying time should take only a week. For those who can be patient, this is not the best method since drying weed close together increases the chance of mold. Also, they could dry out too fast.

If you want fast drying with less risk, try quick drying a small amount of your harvest and use the slow method for the rest. Using a cookie sheet, place your bud on it and put it in the oven for 10 minutes at 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (65-95 degrees Celsius). Beware though, this method does decrease the taste; however, it will still be just as potent. This method is not as effective as hanging them, but it can be good for personal use from time to time.

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Ideal conditions for drying

Your weed needs to be dried in a dark, cool place with temperatures of 65 F and humidity of 40. You must master patience during this time. You must pay attention to timing and humidity. Drying weed outside in the sunlight will ruin the taste, color, and potency of it.

If it is humid or raining outside your plants will need even more air ventilation.

How to store your weed

Storing your weed the right way will make your bud tastier and keep it fresh. If you have a large harvest, store it in sealed glass containers or bake bags in your freezer. This also works in a really cold refrigerator, but freezers are better due to infrequent use. Make sure the container is sealed to prevent the THC from degrading which could ruin the high, and tightly sealed containers maintain freshness.

When storing your weed for a short period of time, use a tin or plastic container for only a few weeks.

What to do with trim-off

Your trim-off can be just as useful as the bud. Instead of throwing it away, use it to make delicious edibles. Trimmings are rich in trichomes making it great for edible treats like weed brownies, marijuana butter, candies, and tinctures.

What happens if you don’t harvest?

If you don’t harvest, the THC and CBD will degrade, which will cause it to have a more narcotic effect. If you wait too long, the THC will start to turn into CBN. CBN is non-psychoactive. So, if this is not your goal, make sure to harvest at the proper time. Not too soon and not too late.

Is it dried enough?

Large harvests need 10-14 days to dry fully. If your buds dry too quickly, it will taste bad, and the smoke will be uneven.

One way to determine if your bud is dry enough is to do a crunch test. If the stems snap rather then bend, it is time to trim and store your buds. You can also bite the stems to evaluate the crunch. Another option is to break off a small piece inside a large bud and test to see if smoking it is smooth. If so, the rest is most likely dried enough.

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